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Posted under: Culture Entertainment

102 Years Of Sisterhood: Zeta Phi Beta's Noteworthy History And Iconic Members

The sorority was founded by 5 trailblazing Howard University students.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded on Jan. 16, 1920, by five Howard University students: Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Pearl Anna Neal, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, and Fannie Pettie Watts—aka the Five Pearls.

Zeta Phi Beta has deep ties to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc

"From the Sorority's inception, the members of Zeta Phi Beta and Phi Beta Sigma have successfully collaborated on a variety of community service projects, shared national, regional, state and local activities and developed and enjoyed the bonds afforded a sisterhood and brotherhood with a shared purpose," reads the sorority's website.

"No other two organizations can boast of such a rich, mutually beneficial relationship that has resulted in a complete and comprehensive record of service to the men, women and children within our communities," the acknowledgment continues.

With over 125,000 members and 800 chapters throughout North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, several Zetas are in all professional areas. In honor of this sorority's Founders' Day, we've compiled a list of 7 Zetas who are in the public eye.

Vivica A. Fox

This critically acclaimed actress became an honorary Zeta back in 2020, and she is proud to rep her royal blue and white. Vivica A. Fox has starred in many high-profile projects, including Set It OffSoul Food, the Kill Bill franchise, and Empire.

Sheryl Underwood

Sheryl Underwood—one of the co-hosts of The Talk—pledged Zeta back in 1990, and she was even elected as the sorority's 23rd International President back in 2008. In addition to her current talk show gig, Underwood is also a renowned comedienne and actress. 

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was a significant figure of the Harlem Renaissance. She is most known as the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God—a staple of 20th century American literature. Hurston attended Howard University, and she was an early initiate into the Zeta sorority.

Dionne Warwick

Iconic recording artist Dionne Warwick is another member of Zeta Phi Beta. Warwick, who is notably Whitney Houston's cousin, has a career that spans multiple decades, and she is a powerful force in the music industry. It's also worth pointing out that she was celebrated by her sorority sisters at the Indiana Black Expo back in 2016.

Anita Hill

Anita Hill came to prominence in 1991 for bravely accusing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, her supervisor at the time, of sexual harassment shortly before his appointment. Hill was named an honorary Zeta back in 2017, and she currently teaches at Brandeis University.

Towanda Braxton

Towanda Braxton is one of the stars of Braxton Family Values, and she is the third of the five Braxton sisters. While she isn't as well-known as Toni or Tamar, Towanda has the honor of being a proud Zeta.

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan became an honorary Zeta back in 2020 with Vivica A. Fox, and this critically acclaimed singer is one of the sorority's biggest names. From her beginnings with Rufus to her successful solo career, this iconic star is an excellent addition to the Zeta family.

Syleena Johnson
R&B singer Syleena Johnson is a proud member of the Lambda Epsilon Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Johnson enrolled at Duke University back in 1994, joined Zeta Phi Beta in 1996. She is widely known for being featured on "All Falls Down" by Kanye West. The Grammy-nominated artist is also the daughter of Syl Johnson, an African American blues and soul singer. 

Happy Founders' to all the outstanding Zetas!

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